Dates: 09/16/08 – 9/20/08
Distance: 22 nm
Sailed from: Porto Cala de Ratjada, Mallorca
Although there was still a large swell, we had a relatively smooth crossing to Menorca in light winds (motoring and motor-sailing again). We arrived in Ciutadella during the early afternoon when everything is closed for siesta, so we tied to the fuel dock until a berth was assigned on the other side of the harbor in a small cala. Yachts are not allowed to tie-up to what used to be a visitors dock because this is now the main channel for the huge car ferries with service to the other islands.
We liked our out-of-town location because it was more private than the busy public quay and was just a short walk into the heart of this lovely, historic city. We stayed four nights and arranged for a rental car for two days, a great way to see the many interesting sites that lie inland. Menorca is further off the tourist path than either Ibiza or Mallorca which was much to our liking.
From the 360° view from the top of Monte de Toro in the interior of the island, we could see how the northern part of the island is more rugged than the southern part, a result of the geology and prevailing northerly winds. We had lunch one day in Fornells on a bay known as Ses Salines because it is like a lagoon. Except for a few hearty-looking cruising yachts, almost all of the visitor’s moorings were empty in the harbor.
We spent that afternoon visiting Cap de Cavalleria, the long, narrow cape on the north side of the island. The barren landscape is swept clean by the tramantora winds from the north. We wound along the narrow roads lined with ancient stone walls and admired the varied landscape, including small calas (coves), sand dunes, marshes, meadows and pine-covered hillsides. We saw “wild” olive trees, the tall, flowering spikes of ursinea maritima in bloom, breathed in the wonderful aroma of rosemary and noticed the many juniper trees whose berries are used in the local Menorcan gin. We were awed by the Bronze age monuments such as Naveta des Tudons and the Talayotic town at Trepucó.
Along the way, we sampled local treats such as ensaimadas and coca bamba (sweet pastries) and formatjades and coques (savory pastries filled with meat, cheese or vegetables). After returning the rental car, we took a day to wander around Ciutadella and visit the archeological museum there.